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Police: Seattle demonstrators running checkpoints at CHAZ

The former entrance to the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest in early June. (Nicole Jennings/KIRO Radio)

Seattle police say some demonstrators on Capitol Hill are armed and trying to extort protection money from area businesses and residents.

A look inside Seattle’s newly-formed ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’

“We have been hearing from community members that they have been subjected to barricades set up by the protesters with some armed individuals running them as checkpoints in the neighborhood,” Seattle Police Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said during a news conference on Wednesday. “While they have a constitutionally protected right to bear arms there is no legal right for those arms to be used to intimidate community members.”

That being so, Q13’s Brandi Kruse reported calling several businesses in the area, garnering “three firm denials” of protesters in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone extorting them. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce also told The Seattle Times that it hadn’t heard any reports of extortion.

If you are the victim of extortion, Seattle police are asking you to call 911.

Photos: Seattle Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

The ongoing protest at 12th and Pine, also known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, continues on Wednesday.

“That’s news to me,” Gov. Inslee said when reporters asked him about the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone on Wednesday during his news conference.

Leaving the East Precinct

The Assistant Chief explained why the East Precinct on Capitol Hill has been cleared of almost all officers and expensive equipment. She added that an investigation is underway.

Nollette said there were threats to burn down the East Precinct before the Seattle Police Department left on Monday. SPD was concerned that the fire could spread to neighboring residents and businesses.

“We felt the safest plan at the time was to secure the building and have our offers relocated,” Nollette said. “We would like to be able to return to the East Precinct to our normal operations. This would improve our response times and capabilities within the neighborhood.”

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